The Richland Northeast boys used long-distance shooting to take a 10-point lead against Spring Valley early in their game Friday night.
Dominique Taylor, P.J. Dozier and the rest of the Vikings rattled the Cavaliers’ 3-point shooting later on to close out a 68-56 victory againsto their Region 4-4A rivals at Richland Northeast.
“I didn’t count them out until that clock ran out,” Spring Valley coach Perry Dozier said. “They’ve got great players on that team, and you never know. When they get their feet set, they can shoot.”
As the Spring Valley (13-7, 4-1) defense tightened toward the end, Dozier added that when he watched Richland Northeast (14-5, 3-2) shots miss their mark, “I was so happy when it was hitting the rim and coming up short. I was just tickled they weren’t getting hot again.”
Taylor led the Vikings with 26 points and Dozier added 22. Their offensive and transitional output offset the dead-on shooting of Richland Northeast’s Quiron Cook, who finished with 29 points, including six 3-pointers.
“We may have got too comfortable shooting out there and shot too much,” Richland Northeast coach Jason Powell said. “We didn’t handle the pressure very well in the second half. We contributed a lot of their fastbreak points off of rushing shots and passes, and they did a great job defensively. That created a lot of offense for them.”
It took a little while for the Vikings to heat up in the second half.
Clinging to a 34-33 halftime lead, Richland Northeast went back to work from the 3-point line, with Javonte Anderson hitting one to open the third quarter. Cook’s foul shot and Aaron Scott’s transition basket made it 40-33 Cavaliers.
Spring Valley responded shortly afterward, and both teams battled for control. A pair of Dozier baskets brought the Vikings to within 46-45 with 2:10 left in the period.
With Richland Northeast leading 48-45 about a minute and a half later, Taylor clamped down on defense, first going coast-to-coast on a defensive board and then making a steal and converting it to the go-ahead basket with 20 seconds left to give the Vikings a 49-48 lead, their first of the game.
Richland Northeast went to the foul line twice in the closing seconds of the third, and came up 0-for-4.
“We had some players come off the bench and we were able to bring up the intensity,” Taylor said. “They can change the game, and our defense can be our offense.”
Spring Valley took control in the final quarter, starting on a 9-0 run to make it 58-48 Vikings. The Cavaliers didn’t come closer than eight points for the rest of the game.
“We got off to a slow start, but we weren’t going to quit on the game,” P.J. Dozier said. “We pretty much had momentum going into the fourth, and we let that momentum carry us to a victory.”
It was quite the opposite from the start.
Powered with its long-distance shooting, RNE jumped to a 13-2 lead. Four 3-pointers and an aggressive presence under the boards lifted the Cavaliers to a 20-10 lead going into the second quarter.
“We were nervous at first,” Taylor said. “We just have to settle down. If we can get off to a good start, we can be a better team.”
Spring Valley started to cut into the lead from the start with a three from Dozier and a basket from Taylor. RNE used its long-distance capability to hold off the Vikings for much of the second, but a 10-2 scoring run got Spring Valley to within one point at the half.
“Being down by one point going into halftime really gave us some encouragement,” Coach Dozier said. “If we can come back, we can win this game.”